Low dramatic clouds, a refreshingly fine mist of rain, and a raft of over a thousand red-necked phalaropes greeted us on Icy Strait this morning as we cruised toward the Inian Peninsula on the north end of Chichagof Island.
After a hearty breakfast, we anchored at Fox Creek for kayaking along the coast and hiking into the spruce and hemlock forest. Hikers were awed by the number of wildflowers greeting them along the high tide line and in the forest. Purple beach peas, found flowering in one place and fruiting in another, reminded us of the ability of the land to both inspire and feed us, as did the burgundy-colored chocolate lilies.
Along a small tributary to Fox Creek, we discovered parasitic ground cone––a curious plant lacking in chlorophyll that leeches precious nutrients from the roots of alder trees. Not far into the woods, we found a series of depressions in the moss––a perennial brown bear path along which bears have placed their feet in the same exact spots year after year, forming a semi-permanent set of tracks.
In the afternoon, we moved the ship to the nearby Inian Islands for Zodiac tours where strong Pacific tides are forced into narrows between the islands, creating powerful currents and upwellings that churn the ocean, concentrating prey for waiting eagles and Steller sea lions that fight over the flatfish and cod.
Following our adventures off the ship, our Global Explorers enjoyed pizza and an animated film about mythical selkies who, by shedding their skin, change form from seal to women, reminding them of our Undersea Specialists Amy and Juliette who donned dry suits to enter the water today like a pair of camera-wielding seals.
From ground cone to flounder, pea to pizza, it was a day of bounty for all the wild things on shore, in the sea, and on the boat.